- Growing up playing different sports, it was always important for me to learn and know the playing positions. Whether it was soccer, basketball or football, I wanted to know the positions. It was important to know what coach was talking about if he switched my position. Nowaday US Soccer wants to go by this soccer position numbering system. This is nothing new worldwide, so it’s not that US created it. Some think it’s too much and unnecessary, while others use it everyday. Wither way, it’s good to be educated on.
History of numbering system and who uses it
For years we have grown up on center back, full-back, center mid, forwards, wingers or outside mids.
A friend of mine is a FIFA Player Agent and he says that agents and professional club managers speak the numbering system language, which was created in the 1920’s.
This was then adapted by US soccer around 2012.
Is all of this too much for youth soccer families in America to learn and adapt?
There are already so many who don’t even understand the regular position names.
We need to all be on the same page at least at the ages of 6-11. Although, players 12+ need to be able to adapt to different coaches and systems that they could come across.
Soccer position numbering system
- Goalkeeper – GK [also Jersey #0]
- Right back – RB
- Left back – LB
- Center back – CB
- Center back – CB
- Defensive center mid – DM
- Right mid – RM
- Attacking center mid – AM
- Striker – ST
- Center forward – CF
- Left mid – LM
It’s not a rule to have these numbers – more history. At the same time you do want to have a # that makes sense.
Example: You’re not going to see a #8 or 10 playing defense and you won’t see a forward with #2 or 4.
Pros with higher numbers…
- Sergio Ramos used #15 [CB]
- Messi was #19 when younger – then #10 once he made his mark.
- Trent Alexander #66 [RB] – strange number, but he doesn’t care:) It must mean something to him.
- David Beckham #7 Man U, but #23 Real Madrid [RM]
- Jordi Alba #18 [LB]
Formations in futbol
A 4-4-2 formation is most popular, while others play a 4-3-3, 4-5-1 or 3-5-2.
How to say a formation: Let’s use a 4-4-2 for example – the first 4 is the defender, the 2nd four is the mids and the 2 is the forward position.
Adapting to different coaches and systems
Every coach is different, as is every player…
For the players who want to one day play high school or college soccer, you should at least know the soccer position numbering system.
The main reason is because coaches appreciate when a player is educated on these topics.
Knowing, could one day help you when trying out with a team.
If you get a coach who uses this in his communications, you’ll want to know it right?
It’s more of a quicker way to let the coach or player know exactly what position. This saves a little time, which is good…
Coach could say to a player to play center mid, but then the player has to know if it’s defensive center mid or attacking center mid.
If the coach says to play the #8 then you it’s [attacking center mid], compared to a #6 [defensive center-mid].
Pro games on TV don’t use the numbering system
When you watch World Cup, English Premier League or a La Liga game or any pro game in the world you don’t hear them say “Great pass from the #6 position out to the #7.
It is good for parents to know, but it shouldn’t be a big deal…
These kids know the numbering system and tactics, but most youth club soccer players don’t even know the exact parts of the foot to pass with.
In my opinion, we need to be stressing the fundamentals, mechanics and advanced passing skills.
Soccer position by traditional names
This all depends, but for the most part it usually looks like this.
Just know that a person from the UK could use different position terms from someone from another part of the world.
You should want to know them all… I remember first learning it when I was about 12 years old and thinking it was all fascinating.
Keeper, Goalie (GK)
Center backs (CB), full back [any defender] , outside backs (RB, LB), wingbacks (LB, RB)
Holding or Defensive Mid (DM), Attacking Center Mid (AM), Outside Midfielders (RM, LM), Wingers (RW, LW)
Center Forwards (CF), Striker (S)
Is this dividing youth soccer?
I don’t think so, but it will educate those who want to play at the select/travel club level.
The top youth leagues give more college opportunities because the level is higher.
If you want to play on the US National team then MLS or ECNL is best, for now anyway. From 2017-2020 it was US DA.
Maybe this will change again. The current system is better in the 2021-current system because with DA [Development Academy] was too controlled.
Countries like France, Spain, Japan don’t structure all these different leagues and then choose from only 1 league to be on the national team.
Japan doesn’t even have “Rec” and “Select”… They all just play in 1 level…
Mexican soccer numbering system is different
Have you ever played or watched a youth team from a Mexican club?
If so did you notice that they have high jersey numbers like #84 or 118.
The lower the number you have in this system the higher up you are to the 1st team [pro team].
Numbers like 30 or 40 are basically the U-18 and U-23 players who are close to cracking the 1st team.
The first team typically still has their defenders numbered 2 – 5, mids 6, 7, 8, 10, 11 and the forwards 9, 14, 20.
This is very motivating for the younger players wanting to get on the first team.
Your number is almost like a badge to show how hard you are working to your dream.
Technical skills should always be main education
At the end we want to improve our players technique at a young age of 6-13, not worry so much about tactics and numbering systems.
Though for ages 12+ who are advanced, it is something you want to at least know.
I like that this soccer position numbering system teaches history of the game and tactical understanding.
More important though, let’s teach players the importance of receiving and striking a proper ball with different parts of the feet.
I think every coach wants their players who are 11+ years or older to know how to strike a ball with the top of the foot, but it’s not easy to learn.
Even in a private individual lessons, learning to strike proper is not easy. This is why kids don’t learn in a team setting.
It’s difficult for a coach to teach that many players the details and then be able to correct them right away.
There is no perfect youth system, so every country is wanting to improve year after year. If not you will get left behind and I don’t think any country or player wants that.
Our Most Popular Posts:
- 3 ways to strike the ball with power
- How to boost confidence in soccer
- 8 best 1st- touch drills
- Expert dribbling tips
- Goal side defending
Follow @GFTskills on Social Media